Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Lone Wolf

In 1920 the United States tried a "grand experiment". For the next 13 years the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages was illegal in the United States.
Of course it was still fairly easy to get a drink, often in little out of the way places called "speakeasies".
My father's older sister, Margie moved from small town Idaho to Salt Lake City, the nearest big city, in the 1920s. Margie worked a number of jobs including modeling for department stores and local fashion photographers. I've seen pictures from that time, she was a very attractive woman.
I never heard the details but by 1930 Margie had opened a high class speakeasy and brothel in the "Avenue" neighborhood of Salt Lake City. At 18 my mother, Dorothy, was living with and working for Margie as her bookkeeper ("I wasn't pretty enough to be one of the girls." she once told me.)
Margie's youngest brother, Jack, was born with a club foot. Jimmy, my father, their oldest brother brought him down from Idaho to The Children's Hospital in Salt Lake for treatment. They all stayed together for a few days until Jack went in the hospital and Jimmy moved on to work in the shipyards in Oakland, California.
Dorothy met and fell in love with Bill, the bar's driver and delivery man. Nine months to the day after they were married my sister Billie Dean was born. Their marriage broke up when Bill brought his girlfriend home to meet his wife. I'm sure he was surprised at her reaction, it seems she threatened to kill him with a butcher knife or a cast iron frying pan...I've heard both stories. When Margie found out, she called a local judge, one of her better customers, who handled Dorothy's divorce privately in his chambers.
At 21 with a baby, no husband and no child support Dorothy had no choice but to move back home with her parents, Dora Mae and Ben, my grandparents. Dorothy found legitimate work in downtown Salt Lake and grandma raised Billie Dean. Life with Dora Mae was pretty difficult for both Dorothy and Ben. Their close father-daughter friendship stemmed from those days.
Dorothy once told me that she despaired of ever finding someone who loved her and would want to marry her. She dated, but few men wanted to marry a woman with a child. She and Margie even travelled to California on a vacation and looking for work. They stayed with Jimmy in Oakland, but they weren't close. It was the height of The Depression and Jimmy was sending money home to Idaho to help his mother and his younger brothers and sister. He had made up his mind to never marry and have a family until times got better.
In 1942 The Depression ended with America's entry into World War II. Jimmy was drafted and went off to war. It was at Margy's suggestion that Dorothy started writing to Jimmy. The wrote each other often and fell madly in love. In June, 1945, while he was home on leave Dorothy and Jimmy were married in Dora Mae and Ben's living room.
And that's how my parents met. So why the picture of Alfred von Kowalski-Wierusz' painting The Lone Wolf ? As long as I can remember a small, framed copy of this picture has hung in my bedroom. It came from a calendar that hung in Margie's bar. It's a wonderful reminder of how my parents met.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Molly and Vick

The story on everyone's radar is Michael Vick's admission of guilt to charges involving dog fighting and killing. I'd rather share another story with you.
When Joe (my late lover) and I moved to Baltimore in December, 1992, our first place was out in the suburbs of Baltimore County. The following Spring we found a place in the city just a block from Joe's office. In July Joe had to fly to Phoenix, Arizona, for a church conference. The morning he left I was packing his bags. To get him out of the way I sent off for a long walk with Bentley, the miniature schnauzer we brought from California.
I had just finished packing, closed last suitcase and was putting them out on the porch when Joe and Bentley came up the walk. They were followed by a larger, skinny dog covered with mud, blood and dog poop. She was a mess.
She was a pit bull that somebody was trying to make mean so she'd be a fighter.
"She was tied up to the fence behind the old high school. I untied her figuring she'd run off but instead she followed me home, what am I gonna do?"
My response was "You're leaving for Phoenix when your ride gets here and I'll take care of her." His ride came, we took time for a long kiss and off he went with promises to call when he got settled. After he left I put Bentley in the house and set down on the porch steps, the new dog came over and put her head in my lap. You need to know that I'm a big softy especially when it comes to animals. I also have a cast iron stomach. It takes a lot to make me throw up. "Well girl, will you stay here while I get some stuff from inside?" She didn't answer but she didn't leave when I went inside and grabbed the dog shampoo and a pile of old towels and the first aid kit. She watch patiently while I uncoiled the garden hose and turned on a gentle stream. It took a half hour of washing and repeating to get all the mud and crud off of her. She kept trying to drink from the hose so I got Bentley's outdoor water bowl and kept it full as she tanked up on water.Her face was swollen, one eye almost shut but no cuts on her head. She had bruises and shallow cuts on her back around her tail. (In case you ever need an ice pack and you don't have a "real one", a bag of frozen peas or corn makes a great substitute.) The most amazing thing was that she let me use peroxide on her cuts and an ice pack on her face without fighting me at all. As I was finishing up Sharon, a good friend, the neighborhood dog walker, stopped by and asked me what was happening. I told her the story as she was petting the new dog. Sharon had been a nurse so she gently checked for broken bones and infected cuts. I told her I couldn't afford a vet to take care of the new dog. She said we didn't need one yet but she knew vets who would help out for free. While she was checking the dog I slipped inside and got a bowl of dried kibble. The new dog was famished.
We ended up calling her Molly. Molly was my constant companion for the next 14 years. She took care of me when Joe was sick and when he died. She took care of Bentley in his old age, until he died. About a year ago she developed a number of tumors, cancer the vet said. When it got to be too much I held her in my lap as the vet gave her that last shot. At the end she was trying to lick the tears from my face.Molly was the sweetest, gentlest dog I'd ever met. She was all the proof I needed to know that pit bulls can be as good and loving as a dog could be.
And so Mr. Vick, you disgust me. You are cruel and malicious, a common thug. I am glad you've lost your job and I hope this ruins your career. I can't help but wonder if a man as cruel as you abuses women and children. The best news is that people will forget you, you will only be a pathetic footnote in NFL history.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Three in New York City

Lordy, lordy, lordy it's been something like 5 months since my last blog! Well, I've now lost a total of 125# making me 180#. I have no idea when I last weighed 180# but it certainly wasn't even in distant memory. Had to be in the late 1970s! I'm doing well, and feeling very good.
A month ago I was visiting Gunny in New York City and he took some pictures including this one. Maybe I'll post a Before pic to go with this After. I had a grand time...a lot of firsts for me...first trip to Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty on Friday and on Sunday my first trip to Fire Island.
We took in three shows Deuce with Angela Lansbury, The Year of Magical Thinking with Vanessa Redgrave and finall Forbidden Broadway a delightful revue of the current crop of Broadway musicals. For me the exciting thing was that a year ago I might have had the energy to do one day but all three would have been out of the question.
Back in Baltimore we've had so strange weather...Thursday we didn't even get to 70 degrees outside...tomorrow there is an extreme heat warning with heat indices of 100+. All to strange.Well, that's about all. I will try and be better about keeping up with this!Hugz to All!